Tuesday, November 30, 2010
by Dee Newman
Located within the Old Rose Bay Restaurant in Port Orange, Florida, are three rooms (unknown by the general public) full of historic artifacts and very valuable firearms, mainly 19th and 20th century rifles. Leaning in an obscure corner of one the large wall display cases is a 19th century coach double-barreled shotgun.
The story behind this weapon (according to its present owner, “Max” Maxwell), if true, would make the shotgun priceless. The previous owner, the grandson of a man who once lived in Tombstone, Arizona, during the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral, told Max that according to family folklore, “Doc” Holliday in the infamous shootout used the shotgun.
As some of you may know, the gunfight did not actually take place at the O.K. Corral. It transpired six doors down Fremont Street in a vacant lot next to Camillus Fly's photography studio. Despite the fact that only three men were killed during the gunfight, it is, perhaps, the most famous and well-documented gunfight in the history of the Old West.
My friend Jack and I were particularly interested in the weapon’s historical significance, given the fact that back in the late '60s we once worked together in and around Tombstone.
The events and conflicts leading up to the gunfight are diverse and complex. To read a definitive account of the historical record you may go to Wikipedia’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The following is an excerpt:
Meanwhile, having heard that the newly arrived Cowboys were now on Fremont Street, bearing weapons, and now a block away from the entrance to the O.K. Corral where they were legally entitled to hold weapons, Virgil Earp decided to act. While Wyatt was confronting Frank McLaury at Spangenberg's, Virgil had collected a shotgun from the Wells Fargo office around the corner on Allen Street, in case of trouble. This would have been a very short-barreled "messenger" or coach gun type weapon, double-barreled and likely a 10- or 12-gauge, loaded with buckshot. Returning to Hafford's, and not wanting to alarm the citizenry of Tombstone by carrying the shotgun through the streets, Virgil gave the shotgun to Doc Holliday to hide under his longer overcoat. The Earps carried revolvers in their coat pockets or in their waistbands; there is some evidence that Holliday was using his longer coat that morning to conceal a revolver holster. Virgil took Holliday's walking-stick in return, which he carried in his right hand to use for emphasis. Then the Earps and Holliday walked west down the south side of Fremont Street toward the Cowboys' last known position, keeping out of sight of the Cowboys.